Newport Dunes’ VP/GM Andrew Theodorou shares his family’s story.
Andrew, everyone calls him “Andy,” Theodorou is certainly a mainstay in the Newport Beach community. As executive vice president and general manager of the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, where he has been employed since 1999 and where he oversees a staff of 250, you are bound to encounter Andy and his engaging smile and manner somewhere along the way. He also serves on the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, is a member of the chamber’s Commodores Club, serving as Skipper in 2014-15, and also serves on the executive board of Visit Newport Beach and Newport Beach & Co., where he is the current chair.
However, you might not know about Andy’s background. Did you know he also has a British passport and his father was from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where he grew up after being born in England?
Since this is a father’s story, you need to know that Andy remembers his father, Joe Theodorou, with great love (he passed away in 2011).
“My father was my best friend,” he says. “He wasn’t educated because he had to work to support his siblings, but he always had a great business sense.”
Andy was born in Reading, England in 1951, and that is where Joe, his Greek father, met Helga, his German mother, after her family had settled there escaping the Nazi threat in the 1930s. When Andy was seven, Joe moved the family, which included two daughters, to his birthplace on Cyprus.
“My father owned three supermarkets on Cyprus,” Andy says proudly, “and he introduced the modern supermarket concept to the island.”
Andy said his mother helped with staffing the supermarkets.
“My mother was and is an amazing lady,” Andy says. “She has always been very loving, with such a kind heart, and she worked hard in the family business.”
When the Theodorous moved to Cyprus, it was under British rule, with sandy beaches, beautiful multi-tiered hotels and fashionable resorts. Following the British granting Cyprus its independence in 1960, the island became chaotic. With a Greek president and a Turkish vice president, there was political turmoil, and violence reigned, so much so that the United Nationals moved in to keep the peace.
A few years later, Joe, now in the hospitality business, purchased 1.3 acres of land near the resort town of Famagusta for an estimated $4,000. He had dreams of building a hotel on the land. It was only a block from the Mediterranean, with a huge, arching oak tree a graceful landmark.
However, tensions on the island remained high and in 1974, the Greeks launched a coup, overthrowing the ineffectual Cyprus government in seeking reunification with Greece. Turkey responded by invading the island to protect its Turkish minority, and thousands were killed on both sides, with hundreds of thousands displaced. The result was that the Turkish forces never left and a partition was built, called the Green Line, to keep the warring parties apart. Unfortunately, the resort town of Famagusta and Joe’s 1.3 acres lie on the Turkish side.
During the conflict, Andy’s parents decided to send him to Berlin when he was 15 in order to avoid military service in the Greek army (when a young man turned 16, he was conscripted into the army and not able to leave the island). Andy lived in West Berlin with his German grandmother, who refused to speak English and sent him to German language school. His grandmother had been instructed by Joe to make sure his son was educated in the hospitality services, so he could return to Cyprus and build his hotel. That is exactly what she did.
Andy received his Hotel & Resort Management Degree from the University of West Berlin in 1975 and spent the next few years in fine resorts in Cyprus, Germany and England before he immigrated to California in 1980 to begin a stint at the Disneyland Hotel as GM of Restaurants. Then, it was on to the Westwood Marquis Hotel (now the W Los Angeles) as executive assistant manager, the Registry Hotel in Irvine (now the Hilton Irvine) as rooms division manager, and the Balboa Bay Club as vice president of resort operations.
While at the Registry Hotel in 1983, Andy met his future wife, Susan Fox, and wedding bells followed in 1987.
“She was and still is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on,” Andy says.
“Susan is a remarkable lady,” he continues. “She is an interior designer, who has a major talent for design. She can dress someone, as well as their house, in a heartbeat.”
Susan and Andy welcomed daughter Kristina in 1991 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. She graduated from Mission Viejo High School, where she was a member of the cheer team.
“Our daughter got her fashion sense and beauty from her mother and is an amazing person, both inside and out.” Andy says.
They are very proud of the fact that Kristina is an honor student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she is graduating this summer, and that she has been an intern at St. John for two years.
Andy also has a son from a previous marriage named after his father, Joe Theodorou, who is a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Navy.
“I’m so proud of him, and his military record is impressive,” Andy says. “Joe is married and has a son named Brodie.”
Andy and Susan adore Bodie, age 6, who lights up their lives whenever he’s around.
“We’re a close family,” Andy says, “and we’re great friends. We allowed our children to pursue what they were interested in. But, I did encourage them to hang out with friends who were 10s. I felt that if their friends were that caliber of people, they would be a good influence.”
Andy recounts with a smile the kids coming in after a night out and saying, “‘I met someone. She’s a 10.’”
As to fatherhood, Andy credits his father and mother with his success as a parent.
“It was easy for me to step into fatherhood. My own father and mother paved the way,” he shares. “I can’t describe how special it is to be a father–to watch them grow up and become themselves, the unique individuals they are today.”
Andy has not forgotten his father’s dream of building a hotel in Cyprus. A few years before Joe passed away, he and Andy were able to visit Cyprus and cross the Green Line from the Greek Sector into the Turkish Sector. They carried the deed to prove the land was theirs, but they couldn’t find the land, until they finally spotted the graceful oak. The only problem was the land was covered in multi-level condominiums.
Andy says there are signs of a possible resolution.
“If they would compensate me for the land or find a piece of land on the Greek side, I would be happy,” he says, “and I know my father would be happy as well.”